Two ducks stand in small tub of water with ice on their feathers.

Why Easter is bad for ducks

Some might think releasing their pet ducks into the wild is a fine option—but what they're really creating is helpless 'sitting ducks' for predators.

​These ducks, named Elsa and Olaf, were found frozen to a pond on Christmas Eve. Every year in springtime and summer, people dump their unwanted pet ducks—commonly received as Easter presents—at parks or local ponds. But these ducks are domestic, which means they don't know how to forage, migrate, or protect themselves from predators in the wild. Most die within weeks of abandonment.​
Photograph By Maiara Bertolucci

On Christmas Eve, two Pekin ducks were found frozen to a pond in Smithville, Ohio. They flapped their wings and squawked, fruitlessly struggling to free themselves until two locals, Maiara and Helder Bertolucci, spotted them. The pair slid on their stomachs over razor-thin ice and chiseled the animals free.

“We’ll get you out of here, ok?” Maiara said in a video recording of the incident, cradling one of the ducks in her lap.

The rescued ducks—later named Olaf and Elsa, after characters from Disney’s Frozen—were two of 109 domestic ducks abandoned by an unknown source in a pond outside of a restaurant. A local group called Good Sprout Rescue and Sanctuary rescued the animals; two died, but the rest were rehomed to

DON'T MISS THE REST OF THIS STORY!
Create a free account to continue and get unlimited access to hundreds of Nat Geo articles, plus newsletters.

Create your free account to continue reading

No credit card required. Unlimited access to free content.
Or get a Premium Subscription to access the best of Nat Geo - just $19
SUBSCRIBE

Read This Next

AI can help you plan your next trip—if you know how to ask.
Did this mysterious human relative bury its dead?
This new birth control for cats doesn't require surgery

Go Further

Subscriber Exclusive Content

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet

Why are people so dang obsessed with Mars?

How viruses shape our world

The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end

See how people have imagined life on Mars through history

See how NASA’s new Mars rover will explore the red planet